Are you interested in how digital platforms such as Facebook or Twitter classify and profile you? Are you curious about why they recommend you certain products and not others? Have you been surprised by how Spotify or Amazon come to predict your tastes? Have you received strange or even nonsensical recommendations? Do you think digital platforms fail to capture your “true” identity?
We are studying all these questions in the research project “Algorithmic Identities: Issues and reactions to digital data collection and algorithmic inferences in everyday life”, developed by researchers from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and the University of Warwick. From an interdisciplinary approach between computing, sociology and design, this project aims to understand how personhood is configured in times of algorithms and digital data.
We need your collaboration!
We developed a smartphone app – Big Sister – that creates profiles and recommendations similar to those that digital platforms make every day for their users. Through analyses of your social media accounts, this app will make inferences about your personality and recommend you songs that you might like based on the information collected. Some of these predictions and recommendations might be familiar, but some might surprise you. You might even find that this app has an idea of ‘you’ to the one you hold yourself.
To participate, we ask that you use Big Sister for two weeks and allow us to interview you about your experience. We want to explore how you feel about your data being collected and used to make algorithmic recommendations and predictions. Our aim is to produce a better understanding of how identity is shaped and staged in a world that’s increasingly mediated by opaque digital technologies. By making algorithmic recommendations more transparent, we hope that this experience will give you a greater insight into how these kinds of apps work.
If you are interested in participating, we invite you to answer this short online questionnaire: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/cim/people/scott-wark/big-sister
NB: Participating in this study requires an Android or Apple smartphone with a Play or App store account. Big Sister is not publically available; you will be invited to download the app via this account. This app generates inferences about your personality using data you provide by linking a Twitter or Facebook account, or by processing a text you have written yourself. It provides music recommendations through a linked Spotify account. If you participate, any data you share through these services will be stored on your device. This data will be processed for non-commercial academic purposes and will not be shared with third parties.